The Rays have claimed left-hander Ben Bowden off waivers from the Rockies, the teams announced. Tampa Bay had an open spot on its 40-man roster so no corresponding move is needed. Bowden has been optioned to Triple-A Durham. The Rays’ 40-man roster is now full, while the Rockies’ roster is now at 39 players.
The Rockies never formally designated Bowden for assignment or announced that he’d been placed on waivers, though it’s hardly uncommon for teams to simply try to clear a roster spot in this fashion without first announcing the player’s placement on waivers.
Now 27 years old, Bowden was the No. 45 overall draft pick by the Rockies back in 2016. Praised by scouting reports for a plus changeup, Bowden has regularly missed bats at a high level in the minors (34.4% strikeout rate) but has also yielded too many free passes over the years (11.1% walk rate). Heading into the 2021 season, FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen wrote about Bowden’s inconsistent fastball velocity, noting that when he’s in the mid-90s with his heater he looks like a viable big league reliever. However, Bowden doesn’t always maintain that velocity, evidenced by the 92.6 mph he averaged on his heater in last year’s MLB debut.
That 2021 debut wasn’t a pretty one for Bowden, who posted a grisly 6.56 ERA in 35 2/3 innings. True to form, he showed the ability to miss bats (23.7% strikeout rate, 11.4% swinging-strike rate) but also issued far too many walks (11.9%) and was uncharacteristically susceptible to home runs (1.51 HR/9). Bowden had a huge showing at Double-A in 2019 and fired 11 2/3 shutout frames in Triple-A last year. This season in Triple-A, however, he’s been tagged for seven runs on six hits and six walks in just 7 2/3 innings. He’s fanned 11 of the 34 hitters he’s faced, maintaining that impressive strikeout prowess, but he’ll need to improve his command and more consistently get the best out of his heater if he’s to emerge as a legitimate big league bullpen option.